Fireworks

Chicago - 'Now: Chicago XXXVI' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     May 15, 2014    
 
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It is great to have one of America's legendary bands still producing such timeless music.

Formed in 1967, it's hard to believe that not only have Chicago been going for nearly fifty years, but they are still making music, entertaining, and now even have a brand new album for release.

Chicago is a tale of two bands. The first was as a Jazz Rock influenced band led by the late guitarist Terry Kath and the second, the Peter Cetera AOR/Rock outfit that scored a whole host of radio friendly hits in the eighties. For some time after the departure of Cetera, I felt the band lost their way musically, despite Jason Sheff being a more than adequate replacement.

So it was with great pleasure to hear opening track 'Now' touching on both eras of the band's distinctive sound. The horn section is as seductive as ever and the vocals are both lush and Hard Rocking. The Funky groove is not unlike Earth Wind & Fire's best moments and the Jazz Rock sound is firmly in place too.

Founding member Robert Lamm offers some strong vocals on 'More Will Be Revealed', a stomping Rock song littered with sweeping keys and dazzling horn arrangements. 'America' begins with a lovely a cappella section, before a throaty vocal leads off into a West Coast Jazz number, something these guys just do effortlessly.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The impressive production values on this album really allow each and every vocal and instrument to shine. On 'Crazy Happy', the keyboards wash over the horn section and the shiny chorus bounces addictively around your head. The driving bass of 'Something's Coming I Know' just begs you to get up and dance and it drowns in sweet vocal harmonies.
'Watching All The Colours' has enough hooks to satisfy any Melodic Rock fan, whilst 'Another Trippy Day' is reminiscent of earlier hits like 'Saturday In The Park'.

The only time Chicago drifts from their winning formula is on 'Naked In The Garden of Allah'. The eastern influence is a little to left of centre for me, though it's a valiant attempt at branching out.

It is great to have one of America's legendary bands still producing such timeless music.

Ray Paul

(review taken from the upcoming issue 64 of Fireworks Magazine)

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Comments (3)add comment

Briana said:

...
Fantastic review! The clean quality of the production is a delight and really allows the listener to focus on each component of each song. I love that the songwriters were the producers of each song--who better to let their vision come across.

Incredibly strong release from a band that has nothing to prove.
 
May 19, 2014
Votes: +2

Z Man said:

...
From the very first horn notes of "Does anybody really know what time it is?", way back in '69, this boy was swept off his feet. Years later, they have become nothing less than the soundtrack of my life. It is with immeasurable joy that I savor XXXVI... timeless music that seamlessly channels the 70's and the 80's. Warm, expansive tunes like "Watching All the Colors" and "Another Trippy Day" bring back the days when Chicago wrote what moved them, instead of record companies forcing them to write what the execs thought moved product. "America", and to a greater extent, "Naked in the garden of Allah" harken back to the heady protest days of "It Better End Soon" and "A Song for Richard and His Friends". Trust me, this lapsed trombone player now has something worthy of unpacking the horn for. Congratulations, Chicago! And on another, more personal note... Thank you Chicago!!! What you've done means more to your loyal fans than you'll ever realize... you guys are the best!
 
July 08, 2014
Votes: +1

Scott694 said:

...
Not all what I was expecting. This c_d is basically a flashback to their early years. Unfortunately it just doesn't grab you where expect to be grabbed! Gone are the days of Bill Champlin and the new old lead singer jason Schef as Robert Lamm takes over almost every song. I think they discovered that thier formula as a review and parody of their own band is interesting as they hired a new percussionist and a Terry Kath sound alike so that when I go on the road they can basically sound exactly like they used to in the early seventy's.

NOTHING NEW OR RELEVANT TO MODERN FANS OF THE GROUP. PLDER FANS ON THEIR 70'S WILL LOVE IT!
 
February 15, 2015
Votes: +0

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